Imagine me, two wheeled in a reboot of the reboot of High Fidelity, breaking however many walls there are left now…. Setting a playlist aside for the sake of returning to listening to an entire album is sometimes needed on these long ass rides. More than run on sentences at least. One song off the 8 hour shuffled playlist I drafted continuously comes up – off Blackalicious’s 2002 album Blazing Arrow. So I hit play on the entire Broken Arrow album. Album. It sets the tone perfectly on both the easiest and hardest days. For the uninitiated, the lead “vocalist” in that “group” — code for “one MC in a hip hop duo” — is the late great Timothy Jerome Parker, aka Gift of Gab. He lives up to his name. I’ve brought him to Buffalo several times and and happy I met the guy before he passed at age 50 of what his Wikipedia says is “natural causes”. End John Cuseck adaptation. I digress. The song Make You Feel The Way provides some of Gift’s most poignant and positive poetry:
“Up and early for the hope of a brand new day
See a homie you ain’t seen since back in the day
Fresh haircut fitted with a fat-ass fade
End of work, we chilling on a Saturday
How you felt when you first heard the Daddy Kane
Rakim, KRS – hey I had that tape
Cooling out with ol’ girl on a fat-ass date
Find a hundred dollar bill wow man that’s great
Get promoted at your job up to management
Plot a long time finally a plan has made it
Sometimes I feel I wanna shout, man it’s real that way
When I think of things that make you feel that way”
Up and early for the hope of— ah fuck, fuckity fuck… my head is pounding. Throbbing. So bad I can’t even type exclamation points because even reading anything emphatic is just too much. Like I went out and got rowdy with the locals last night or something. Nope, just didn’t get enough water into me yesterday and now I’m paying the piper. It really does feel just like an actual hangover though. The town looked like it was gonna get its Saturday groove on last night; I didn’t leave the room once upon checkin. Yuck. My head is all go hammer go hammer go. There’s been zero beers for me for a while now and I’ve replaced it with more coffee lately. Last night I tried a double brew room machine decaf thinking it wouldn’t hurt. It hurts. I’d be more hydrated if I was out drinking beers, though I’d probably have the Carolina chlamydia or been punched in the face or something right now if I had. Anyhoo. I’m like ok. Get up. Eat something Free breakfast. It’s meh. Like really meh. I swipe a couple bananas. Despise the “free”hotel breakfast. It’s not free. I like free breakfast programs. Socialists cook better. Chef it up comrades. This is crap. Profit margin bullshit. I shower and it doesn’t help. Pound pound pound. Dogg Pound Gangsta, DPG. Kilograms please so there can be no more pounds. I’ve got to check my coffee intake. I contain myself to a Jack White-esque one more cup of coffee for the road, pull myself together, pack up and mosey on out.
I’m in “The Carolinas” as the signs tell me. Better roads. Worse drivers, maybe? I think they call themselves this in the middle and then neither North or South likes them helps them out. Or maybe the other way around, either way it’s some bizzaro middle world. Morning clouds and even some rain sprinkles give way to abundant sunshine. My mind is on mindfulness. Or am I just being mindful. I don’t mind. Vultures buzz around a deer carcass. They gotta eat too. In the world where I can only plan things two to three days ahead, I’ve got to make a choice coming up about taking the Outer Bank Alternate route or not. It’s a lot to ponder. The main route offers a lot, including at least a day less and way less volatile winds. But butt butte. OBX. I push my decision off and pedal on.
“Christmas Day when your mama got your first bike
Type of feeling when you went and won your first fight
How your team felt winning championship games
Celebrate in a huddle dancing in this rain
Have a thought see a shooting star cross your screen
Put in hard work finally you’re living your dream
Deaf man get his hearing now in come vibes
Blind man gain his sight see his first sunrise
Young man speaking out, now he’s loud and clear
Birthin’ your child, smile so proud you wear
Going in your third eye for the styles you hear
Making music that’ll bump for a thousand years
Eating right feeling conscious like health is first
Said a prayer that’s sincere and you felt it work
Times I feel I want to shout, man it’s real that way
When I’m thinking things that make you feel that way”
Christmas never meant much to me, though my mama got me my first ten speed bicycle for my 13th or 14th birthday. It was a second hand kinda thing. Apparently she caught me sleepwalking on my way out to go late night riding. Or she tells me that now because I kinda like bikes. I pull up to a toll booth, a dude with a squirmy stache says “one bicycle, that’ll be $3 please.” I confirm “does that include myself as well, because it can’t ride itself — though sometimes I wish it did.” Neither of us laugh. I give him my credit card. $3 for me and my Raleigh Sojourn. Pool Noodle Petra rides for free — as she should, that beautiful queen. Next thing I know I’m feeling like Huff & Doback. Boats. Hoes. Ok just boats. No hoes. Unless you count me. Idaho. Really just boat. One. And it’s a ferry. Not tinkerbell. The Fort Fisher Ferry. And I’m with it like a biscuit. Back the Delorean up just a bit to the literal and figurative turn out of this Days Inn. I have to trek southeast for about 25 miles to Southport, chartered in 1792, to jump on this boat and get to Cape Fear. I’m going south and into fear? Yeah I said it and I mean it. The wind means it too — stiff. Out of the… yup southeast. Headwind. No mention of winds by me, myself nor I the last few days silent-specifically/signify tailwinds — or no winds (there’s always usually a little wind). I get in gear and the sun comes out full blast on this long straight Southport-Supply Road. My hammy feels better. Healing. I can’t feel my hands. Or my feet. Or my ass. It’s hot. Whew. I make it just in time for the 1pm departure. I planned for the noon departure. Lesson learned. Though I sorta shoulda learnt this one two years ago on Dauphine Island Alabama. There’s a machine on the upper deck. Reading the inscription. Sounds like a bicycle to me, yet it don’t look like one and cost twenty five whole cents.
An older gentleman is my only other non motor vehicular homie. We chat up top for a bit. He’s healthy looking, walks with a cane, moves around well but can’t stand for too long. It’s $1 to do this boat by foot. He lives nearby and just walks on, takes the ride, walks off. Takes it back. Etc. Far as I could tell he was flirting with his female octogenarian counterparts sitting outside the visitor center. Which also is apparently a social activity round this parts. This guys name is definitely Joe. He’s oozes Joe-ness. Probably Joseph. I don’t ask. Joe tells me that Wilmington was unique because it had two inlets. Had. He points at the breakwall, “they sealed one off an dredged it deep after the civil war.” Wilmington = strategic as fuck for the confederacy, he tells me. I like the history. Later, I’m off the boat, riding and enjoying the lack of cars — since they all got off the boat before me. Joe pulls up in his car and drives alongside me, offering camping spots. Thanks Joe!
“All up in her vibe something coming over me
Summer days more likely that you notice breeze
Winter days more likely that you notice heat
When I’m gone, more likely that you notice me
In the dark it’s more likely that you notice light
In the light more likely that you notice night
Hungry, more appreciation for that meal
Dead broke, more appreciation for that scrill
A bad day’ll make you really notice ones that’s good
And that’ll make things a little better understood
Times I feel I wanna shout, man it’s real that way
When I think of things that make you feel that way”
Here on Cape Fear for the first time, I’m feeling like I could get a DeNiro style prison tat as a souvenir. What’s it mean if I find Robert Mitchum more menacing in the original without all the stand in ink? Robby D got a best actor nod for this and he had to rely on faking a stereotype or look mean and dangerous? In a remake? Should be a cancelable offense in my book — especially considering he had already done Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and Taxi Driver with Scorsese at that point. More meh. I pedal on, now with a considerable and mentionable tailwind.
Wilmington has a solid amount of bike infrastructure into it. I hit the stores, grab some stove fuel and some human fuel (aka trail mix, peanut butter and bananas). I also grab an oat milk latte. I can’t help it. I meet Don, who’s also rode coast to coast on the southern tier route, he offers me a spot to crash and hooks up a taco dinner. Hopefully Don comes up to ride the Erie Canal Trail this fall and i can return the hospitality.
Question. Why do I need ID to get ID, no for real though: it’s a cape I’m on and it called Cape Fear, why is the River I’m riding along right now called Cape Fear River instead of Fear River. I’m feeling slighted, because I wanna say im riding along the fear River. It’ll get me all the likes. Social currency. In a nation where no one knows or cares enough about anything to do anything, crime is down way low. Way way low. Can’t commit crimes sitting in your couch reading Facebook. Poverty still exists — and needs to be alleviated — yet there’s not nearly as much violent crime statistically as there was 40 years ago. Minuscule amount. Cars are the main perps now — if we’re counting traffic violations. Violations of safety laws around operating a motor vehicle. A deadly weapon. They don’t make reality shows about it this but it’s a massive part of the five-oh’s operation. Traffic. It’s where people actually most disobey the law. And safety suffers. People can’t walk in the street. Or ride. Or whatever. Cars become more important than individuals, even though they can’t drive themselves. Yet. Until then it’s a war on tranquillity and safety more than drugs and terrorism. Or any brown country. Let’s eat on these under attentive humans getting involved in the operation of heavy mobile machinery while hopped up on anything from Vicodin and vino to the whiskey and coke. Or their cellphone. Their Big Mac. Their makeup and hair. Anything that isn’t driving with due regard. Lock them up. Times I feel I wanna shout, man it’s real that way. When I think of things that make you feel that way.